When Rob and I began dating in 2021, he created a list of all of our restaurant dining experiences. The list has continued onward into our marriage, and when we were rehashing the “Best of” shortly after the new year, we consulted the list and chose our favorite dining experiences, categorically.
As a tribute to our first year of marriage – which we just celebrated (!) – I decided to compile this list into a blog. That way, if you happen to be in any of these locations, you can check out our favorite spots and let us know what you think.
Just a side note: these winners came only from new places we’ve visited together this year – i.e., even though we went to Malted Barley in December and it has the best pretzels EVER, it wasn’t included in our restaurant list because it wasn’t a “new” experience this year. Also note, in instances where I failed as a food writer and didn’t take a photo, I have pulled a representative photo from their Instagram page.
Without further ado:
Rob and Jenny’s “Best of” List for 2022 (-ish)
(in no order whatsoever)
1. Best Coffee Shop: Ascension Coffee
This is a charming coffee shop, located in the Design District of Dallas – the “flagship location,” as it were. Everything from the selection of drinks/food to the kind service (our server complimented me and Rob on our cuteness, which gave her an automatic 1,000 cool points) to the fancy chalk signage was a 10. And the iced cherry bomb was, in fact, bomb.
2. Best Brunch: Ethos Vegan Kitchen
I must have been so hungry when we went here that I immediately devoured my food and only thought about photos afterward. Rob and I came here after a morning gym sesh (or possible a bike ride?) in the middle of Lent, so it was helpful that everything here is vegan. We inhaled our food, and Rob commented on how good the coffee was. We also had a great server who joked around with us and thought Rob’s jokes were funny – an oddly memorable attribute. I kept wanting to return for brunch, but we never got a chance to. It will live forever in my memory as deliciously good and surprisingly vegan.
3. Best Appetizers: Addison Sushi 469
Honestly, this appetizer was better than their sushi, and the sushi was pretty good. It tasted like the avocado version of a jalapeño popper, and the sauce! I could have licked it right off the plate.*
*anyone who has ever dined with me knows that “could have” translates to “probably did”
4. Best Meatballs: TO Kafeneio
TO Kafeneio is like saying THE Coffee Shop, and those meatballs (keftedakia) were served with “TIN Saltsa,” i.e., THE Sauce – handed down from the first chef here, Nikolas. Bravo sou, Niko. Bravo.
5. Best Hot Chocolate: Sokolata
You can just read about this hot chocolate in On a Quest for Hot Chocolate.
TLDR: the best hot chocolate of my/our life. The menu – broken down by color of chocolate, cocoa intensity, and descriptive flavor notes – ensures that there’s something for everyone.
6. Best Cocktail / Best Mocktail: Rye and Roots Southern Table
Honestly, both of these had great options for cocktails and mocktails. Rye was where we celebrated my birthday dinner, and I loved the entire meal, but that drink: GOLLY BUM. I almost couldn’t tell which one was mine and which one was Rob’s (a non-alcoholic gimlet) except for the warm feeling I got in my belly. A cocktail that tastes as good as a mocktail is a winner, in my opinion.
At Roots Southern Table, I was shocked by how good The Sunday Social turned out to be, made from strawberry preserves, oat milk, lime, vanilla and nutmeg. Oat milk? Really? It was so good that we ended up making our own at home.
7. Best Dessert: Malai Kitchen
I don’t know if Coconut Cream Pie is something I would have ordered on my own because honestly – even though I like coconut – it doesn’t sound all that appetizing to me. I imagine some sort of cheap-tasting whipped cream atop a graham cracker. This was not that. This was the purest coconut dessert I’ve ever eaten, and I’m so glad our friends wanted to try it. I nearly cried it was so good. I pushed through the feeling of complete satiation in order to make sure none of it went to waste. Next time I visit, I will start with dessert and go from there. (Note: the coconut sticky rice was also a winner, and a dessert in itself.)
8. Best Steak: Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill
I don’t enjoy steak unless it’s cooked all the way through and doused in A1 sauce, so this is Rob’s pick. There’s nothing quite like Texas beef, so the top two contenders were in Dallas, but the wood fired Ribeye from Kenny’s pulled ahead for the win. According to Rob, “It was incredibly well-prepared. Even if it had been a bad piece of meat, it would have tasted great. These guys could make a boot taste good.”
9. Best Mexican Food: Martin’s Capitol Cafe
Sorry, Tex-Mex, but the winner is in New Mexico. I finally got to introduce Rob to the magical Smothered Breakfast Burrito, when he visited Roswell for the first time. Even though I am clearly biased, Martin’s was unanimously decided upon as our favorite Mexican food.
10. Best Cheese and Charcuterie: The Bowen House
Okay, so there’s a lot to say about the Bowen House. First of all, it’s built inside an actual house, so the aesthetic/charm of this restaurant is top notch. It was the first place we visited in Dallas where I thought: This reminds me of Rhode Island. All of the food was delicious, the drinks were fancy, and I have to hand to it the host because he gave us the last remaining bar seats as long as we promised to be out by the time the actual reservation showed up.
But I’ll formally recognize them for their charcuterie and cheese. Rob and I order cheese boards with alarming frequency, and I can tell you: some quality accoutrement goes a long way. I mean, who doesn’t love cornichons? Whole grain mustard? Sun-dried figs? Honey from the comb? Not to mention, the entire PLATE of bread that came with it. I hate it when you get three small crouton-like bread chips to share among the table. Also, I give them kudos for offering multiple hard cheeses. Hard cheeses are always better. Bleu cheese is just so overdone, and – no offense – but what percentage of the population actually likes bleu cheese?* – and brie? Unless brie is served warm inside a pastry puff, it’s a disappointing addition.**
*my husband does, so based on our marriage: 50%.
**of all the points I’ve ever made on my blog, I feel like my thoughts on cheese are most likely to cause a fight
We came here on the last day I worked for Brown, and perhaps I have some sentimental attachment to it as well.
11. Best local hangout: Astoria Caffe Wine Bar
Bonus: with a name like Astoria, you really can’t go wrong. But the fact that this has everything you could want in a “caffe” and the best outdoor seating, with string lights, makes this spot one of our favorite hangouts. Did I just go there today and order a hot chocolate bomb with a side of Baileys, you ask? ABSOLUTELY, yes. Not to mention, this was the first place Rob and I visited in Dallas – before we moved to Texas – and it remains our go-to spot seven months later.
Secondary bonus: if you visit around Christmastime, they’ll serve your coffee in a reindeer mug.
12. Best Sandwich: The Burgundian (and while we’re here, the Best Waffle, too!)
Did I spend $185 on a rental car JUST to be able to drive (instead of… Uber?) to North Attleboro, MA? Why yes, yes I did. And it was money well-spent because I got to introduce Rob to the Burgundian. Rob had, previously, tried an unadorned liege waffle – when I happened to have a stock pile of Burgundian waffles in my freezer *sighhh* – but on this day, he got to be transported to the streets of Peru with this “Pan de Chicharron” sandwich. It’s an experience, and it definitely belongs on the “Best of” list.
Also, the waffles. We can never EVER neglect the waffles. 🧇
13. Sleeper Hit of the Year Award: DeJen Eats
This Jamaican vegan, dare-I-say hole in the wall restaurant in Eatonville, FL is just the thing you need at the end of Lent when the thought of more lentils is nauseating. Rob found this eatery on a Google search, too, and we’ve named it the Sleeper Hit of 2022. The fact that it’s owned by a woman named Jenn makes it all the better. It seems she originally started selling food inside of a gas station, but now this restaurant is inside a mini-strip mall next to a dance studio. From the outside it’s unassuming, but on the inside there is wonder: how jerk chicken and curry chicken and buffalo chicken can taste even better than the real thing is borderline miraculous. Tis the season, y’all. Bookmark this restaurant, my Orlando friends.
14. Repeat Offender Award: Whiskey Cake
One of the benefits of Dallas is that there are so many good restaurants, we haven’t needed to return to any. We are only one crumb within a giant loaf of bread, and we can keep experimenting forever and ever and unto the ages of ages (Amen).
Whiskey Cake, however, demands a repeat offense. This is the place that has it all: the scratch kitchen, the creative menu items, the chill-and-hipster but not pretentious vibe, the fancy drinks (both alcoholic and nonalcoholic), the homonymous dessert that I have yet to try … it’s basically the summary of this entire list all in one spot. Rob and I first visited after a morning hike and bike ride, which means we were already off to a great start in terms of days. We wanted brunch, and usually I order both sweet and savory, but the savory options were so good that I held off the sweet. Can you imagine!? Hence, I MUST RETURN.
In any event, those bacon and jalapeño biscuits and white cheddar-roasted green chile grits – yes, you read that correctly – were phenomenal. That Benedict in the back is made with pulled pork. Even our drinks – two nonalcoholic options, the Hulk for Rob (obvi) and Jessica Wabbit for me, were divine. And do you know how I knew this place would serve great drinks, aside from the fact these nonalcoholic beverages contained more than just “soda” or “juice”? They specified Fever Tree ginger beer. Fever Tree makes the absolute best tonic, which means they can be trusted with anything. The cocktail list is also banging – for goodness’ sake, they have a drink called “Mangolorian.” We shall return.
15. Best Overal Dining Experience: Kritamo (Volos)
Before leaving to Greece for our honeymoon, we asked our Greek community for recommendations in our destinations, and it was recommended that we visit an ouzeri. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but it turns out, with each round of ouzo (or in my case, tsipouro), they bring out plates of mezedes – the Greek version of tapas.
Maybe it was because we were Americans visiting in the dead of winter, or because our waiter learned we were on our honeymoon, or because we explained that I would be the one carrying the team on the tsipouro front, but they gave us way more plates of food than my glasses of tsipouro merited. Plates came out two by two with explanations from the kitchen, as if it were a tasting menu from the old world. We received plates of octopus, potato salad, two fish dishes, black-eyed peas, mussels with rice, massively large shrimp, kopanisti (a new-to-us cheese from the Cyclades), calamari from the grill, and still-living oyster-like shell creatures that were said to be an aphrodisiac. We left hours later, feeling as though we had passed through the Looking Glass, all full and happy, discoverers of a hidden and marvelous experience.
The only thing more surprising than the fact that Rob had found this place randomly through a Google search was that this dinner cost only 22.50 euro.
And people wonder why I love Greece so much.
So, there you go. The Best Dining experiences of 2022(-ish), spanning three states and two countries. We hope you’ll share your favorite dining experience in the comments below! I’d be happy to bookmark them for our second year of marriage. 🙂
Yiamas to you all!
12 thoughts on “One Year Married: Best Dining Experiences”
So many great places! Hope to experience some of the Texas ones. And there is no category for “favorite friend’s house breakfast”?
Haha we only have a list for restaurants, otherwise our list would be unmanageable 😂 But is that an invitation??
I surely loved reading this review, especially about Martin’s Capital Cafe! It IS simply the best! Happy Anniversary month!
It truly is! I’ve yet to find better. Thank you for reading along with our dining adventures!
My mouth is watering.
Then I’ve done my job well! Thanks Daddy 🙂
You must do yoga 15 hours a day to still be so thin. I love reading your stuff!
Hahaha I just run twenty circles around the restaurant before eating. I’m so glad you’re reading these adventures still! I miss you!
I’ll have to let Martin know he made the Top !0 and No. 1 for Mexican Food
Haha please do! He deserves a proper award!
I’ll order hot chocolate and two slices of the coconut cream pie, please!
All delightful and now I am starving! But oh, some New Mexico Mexican food. You can ‘t beat it.
There is nothing like Martin’s! But yes, I’m with you on the hot chocolate and coconut cream pie. I’ll go with you!